In this excerpt from Chapter One of Interior Designs, Martha dreams of a family car ride that illustrates her feelings about not fitting into her parents’ world.
My dreams took me along a quiet country road. My parents were in the front seat of their old Pontiac, driving and chatting. They always seemed to be talking about something that only they could understand. Greg and Jon sat on either side of me in the back seat, pushing and shoving, with me sandwiched in the middle. But I knew better than to complain. Nobody dared interrupt my parents when they were deep in conversation.
But then one of Jon’s jabs hit me hard in the stomach and I cried out.
I noticed my mother’s frown, even before she quickly turned into the parent who smiled and took care of me. But the momentary annoyance I saw there reminded me of how I should behave. “I’m sorry, Mommy,” I quickly spoke. “It was an accident.”
She stared at each of the boys, giving them that look that she reserved just for them, and then smiled at me again. “Okay, then, sweetie. We’ll be home soon. Then you can work off some of that energy.”
I could hardly wait, and soon, sure enough, we were pulling into the driveway.
Running into the house and up the stairs to my room, I settled into my window seat and curled up with a tablet of blank pages for drawing. I tried to turn my thoughts and frustrations into pictures I could later give to my mother. Then she would remember that I was the good girl and not the one who complained.